tv The Situation Room CNN July 18, 2014 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
a "the situation room" special report. the downing of -- happening now, a "the situation room" special report. the downing of mh17. breaking news tonight. finger pointing at russia. ukraine is accusing moscow of a coverup at the crash site. international investigators have arrived. what are they finding at the scene? we're looking into new video and audio recordings that appear to back up claims that pro-russian rebels fired the missile that
blasted the jet out of the sky. and the other breaking story we're following, israel warns that it's prepared to expand its punishing ground assault into gaza. the u.s. is urging caution as the civilian death toll rises. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in va rus lem. you're in "the situation room." let's get to the breaking news tonight here in the middle east. new explosions over gaza as u israeli ground troops move deeper into palestinian territory far geting hamas fire power. and in ukraine, concerns about security at the site of the downed malaysian airliner. the first international monitors at the scene hearing gun fir. they say they're not getting the access they need. a ukrainian official is disputing an early report that the black boxes were taken to
russia. he tells cnn they're still in ukraine. other breaks developments, cnn learned that u.s. officials believe it's most likely that pro-russian rebels fired the missile that brought down the plane. one senior defense official says the working theory is that russia provided the rebels with a buk surface-to-air system. we also know that at least one american was among the 298 people on board that plane, a dutch student named quinn lucas, who is also a u.s. citizen. our correspondents are standing by. some of them are at the flight 17 crash site right now. cnn is using its global reach to cover this huge breaking story for all of our viewers. first, let's go to our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. he's got new information. >> well, wolf, today u.s. officials, the u.s. methodically building the case for what was behind this shootdown of this passenger jet. and u.s. officials from the president, the u.s. ambassador
to the u.n., the pentagon spokesman pointing the finger at russia for at least some responsibility. the dedevelopments, u.s. officials concluding that the missile came from inside ukraine, it's likely that pro-russian rebels fired the missile and going further that those rebels would have needed some russian help to fire that missile. the pentagon spokesperson saying, in his words, quote, it strains kre duality that they would have been able to fire the missile without some russian support. ukrainian officials going further providing what they say is audio and video evidence of russian involvement. new video purports to be of pro-russian rebels communicating with russian intelligence agents that they had received a buk missile launcher from russia across the border some days ago and then ukrainian officials also releasing that video you're seeing there, which purports to show that missile launcher going
back across the border into russia after the plane was taken down. and in that highlighted section on top of the launcher there, appearing to show that one missile was now missing from that. i spoke to the ukrainian ambassador to the u.s. today. i asked him what ukraine wants now. he said he wants u.s. led talks with russia to rid the ukraine of pro-russian rebels. he says the thing that's going to get russia to the table for such talks would be severe economic sanctions against russia. the question is can the u.s. engineer that? would european powers be willing to take that step as well? >> and jim, i know you've been speaking with a lot of u.s. officials. do they believe that the pro-russian rebels in eastern ukraine knew this was a commercial airliner, a boeing 777 with nearly 300 people on board, 298 to be precise, or did they think they were trying to down some other aircraft? >> u.s. officials have been asked that very question a
number of times today. they've balked on answering it saying it's to early to conclude what anybody's intentions were. you'll remember the audio we were playing yesterday which seems to show a pro-russian rebel as the plane was shot down saying initially that he thought it was a russian military plane. but again, this is something, wolf, that would have to come out in a much more thorough investigation. >> i thought it was a ukrainian military plane. is that what you meant? >> that's right, a ukrainian military transport. >> all right. stand by. we're going to get back to you. i want to go to the crash scene. it's a horrific scene. phil black is our correspondent. he's there for us. describe what uyer seeing, phil. this is really awful. it's a disaster over there. >> reporter: it really is, wolf. we've been talking about it more than 24 hours now. but to stand here and see it is something else entirely.
behind me is a piece of the wreckage, perhaps two pieces. it's difficult to be sure. and they are large. they're significant and they are standing here in isolation in these very dark fields, nothing else around that sort of shows obviously to be such a large piece of the plane. really gives a sense of the very likely fact that this aircraft broke up in the skies and then rained down in various pieces across a wide area here. as i say, it is late, it is dark. we can't see far. but we can see this. it was one of the first thing we saw when we arrived here today, this very large piece of the aircraft. it gives a sense of the force responsible for tearing it apart in the skies. to stand before it really, really conveying that. but then to look closer, to stand closer to look into it and you see an example of the human cost. there is a body in that piece of wreckage behind me and it is a terrible thing to see. we don't know if it was a crew
member, a passenger. but as i say, a terrible thing. it is in a terrible state as well. it's really quite powerful to think that just yesterday that aircraft was flying above this ground, flying above the ukrainian crisis filled with people who had nothing to do with the events going on down here. but now thash bodies lie in the fields around us. there aren't many of them. we can see them in the grass in these fields. some have been collected according to the emergency workers that wooe been talking to her. but clearly many have not. these people who were flying across had nothing to do with, their bodies now lying in the fields of a war zone. that, as i say, they had no direct connection to, wolf. >> you know what, it's so perplexing to me, phil. is there no authority there, no sort of local government authority that can put some
whatever, control that area so people can walk around and take things. i understand anybody can go there and people have been taking souvenirs, if you will. and the bodies, still more than 24 hours after the crash, they're still lying around there. is there a semblance of any authority where you are? >> reporter: the key point is that this is for all intents and purposes a conflict zone. it's occupied territory, so it is a very unusual hierarchy. it's under the control of the pro-russian rebels. they are here and they appear to be permitting -- that is the right word, i think, some emergency ministry workers to be here and to begin the process of recovering bodies. identifying where they are and then recovering some of them. there's only a small number of the work ares that we've seen. we're told there are others at other locations across the debris field, if you like.
but they are clearly here working under the authority of the pro-russian rebels. they're sharing tents down down the road, share their meals, the workers drinking tea while the rebels are next to them. sharing stories. they seem to be getting along. they're talking. when we first arrived here, the first question we were asked by the emergency workers is do the rebels know we're here, do we have position to be here to see this, to shoot these pictures. it is very clear that the rebel forces are in control. they've aloud a limited local emergency response. but what we are not seeing is the large scale operation that is clearly required to come to terms with something as great as this, wolf. >> phil black on the scene with the horrific scene it is. phil black, we'll get back to you. let's go back to our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto along with retired
lieutenant mark curtly and our aviation correspondent richard quest. jim, what's your read on the way president obama is now handling the current crisis with russia, because it is a severe crisis that's unfolding. >> i would say methodically, deliberately. you heard him today saying there's a lot of misinformation out there, that they want to confirm everything before they make the next move, including who was behind this. at the same time, some of his own officials, senior officials, the u.s. ambassador to the u u.n., samantha power going a step further saying there is evidence that russia would have needed to help these pro-russian rebel to launch a missile like this. president obama said russia is response for the circumstances in eastern ukraine. the fact that the pro-russian rebels are running around. but some senior american officials going a step further to say this shootdown of this
passenger jet likely would have involved russian support. that is a very alarming charge to make. >> richard quest, i want to be precise now in the fate of the two black boxes, the flight data recorder, the cockpit voice recorder. earlier there were some indications maybe the russians now had them. but you spoke to a ukrainian minister who said they are in ukraine but it's clearly still a question where in ukraine, who has authority. be precise. what do we know? >> i'm glad you're asking for that precision, because i kept forcing the economy minister to say what did he mean. he was requoting the foreign minister who had said in an interview in ukraine that the black boxes were still on ukrainian soil, that they were not in the possession of the -- he wasn't sure they were in the possession of the observers. so when i said does that mean
you know where the black boxes are? he would not say that. he would not say that they had them or that they -- who had possession of them. but it scotched the rumor that those boxes had been taken east across into russia. so they are still on ukrainian soil. and you've got this bizarre almost cold war spy novel rush to get to the black boxes first. wolf, one point to note, listening to what phil black was just saying then, i was absolutely taken with the enormous task. they don't just need a few people to be going in there. as peter goelz will testify later. you need hundreds of people. you need refrigeration trucks, you need hazardous material distribution and disposal. the size -- the discrepancy, wolf, between what is there and
what is needed for a half decent recovery operation with dignity is absolutely mind-boggling. >> it is heart wrenching and shocking, i must say, to see what's going on at the scene. i can only imagine how awful this must be for family members who might be watching right now to see what the carnage there and the lack of authority, the lack of credibility any kind of semblance of rovery if you will. it's heartbreaking to see that. jenrry hart ling, you worked extensively with the ukrainian military. you know the region well. what's your read of how sophisticated these pro-russian rebels might be? >> they're very sophisticated, wolf. the fact they're using the buk system just shows how sophisticated they are. this is not a video game system. this is not a point and shoot air defense system. this is a tough system to run.
it's usually linked with a bigger radar but it can use the onboard to intercept. it's not a video game so it doesn't believe extreme details like the type of aircraft you're shooting down. it paints the sky, gets a radar signature, determining altitude, bearing and speed and links the missile to the radar and shoots. they didn't know what they were shooting at. they knew they were shooting at an airplane. they have shot down aircraft at lower levels in the past, not necessarily with this system. but this is complicated and it took a skilled crew to do what they did. again, this system doesn't have what we have in some of our u.s. systems, the identification friend or foe iss system. georgia used this system in 2008 to shoot down some russian military in their war with them. so again, this is a fearful system. this is an awesome air defense system that we train heavily against in the united states.
and to put it against a civilian airliner or slow moving airliner if they thought it was a transport plane, that's a relatively easy shot compared to what it's defend to kill down, which is cruise missiles and fast moving jets. >> that's an excellent point. i have heard that now. it is shocking indeed. i want everyone to stand by. joining us now is the spokesman if the organization for security and cooperation in europe. those international monitors who tried to get to the scene today. michael, what happened today? all of us want the osc monitors to see what's going on. who prevented you guys from doing your job? >> yeah, hi, wolf. there was a lot of anticipation of our visit. it was all over social media. news networks were covering it. we had a smooth kind of transfer from our various cities where we're normally based to the crash area.
but once we got to the crash area, that's where things dramatically change. we were confronted by armed individuals who seemed to be controlling the area. we carefully explained what our mission is, and that is to report and monitor and help facilitate dialogue. but bewere met with, it went from indifferent to rude, very rude behavior and provocative behavior. when we were leaving there was a shot fired into the air. most importantly, we were very limited in the amount of space that we were able to cover, maybe about 200 meters of road. and we were there for only 75 minutes. so you can't do very much in that time, clearly. >> would you say there's any serious effort to secure that crash scene? because it looks like a total disaster. >> well, i think it was richard quest who used the word mind-boggling. i've covered air crashes before and that was in that category.
one of the intents today was to evaluate how secure the perimeter of the crash site is. and we saw very, very limited security, rudimentary at best. the other thing, of course, is the bodies. i mean they're still lying there. we talked to some emergency rescue officials and they said their job is only limited to marking where there are bodies and then body parts but not to move them. their response was well that's someone else's job to do. i think that is the big question right now. is even if we're able to determine what exactly is needed and how it can be done, which parties will be acceptable to people who have control over that area who do things like recover the bodies to help, you know, analyze the debris, that sort of thing. >> we're told that these pro-russian rebels in effect are in control of this crash site. was that your appreciation, your understanding when you were
there? >> yeah. they're firmly in control in terms of access. i didn't strike us as they really knew what they should be doing. as we speak, we are in talks with our contacts here to make sure that this is not a repeat of what happened today. our intent is to go out there in a few hours when there's daylight, spend the whole day, doing things exactly hike we're supposed to, assess the security of the area, the perimeter, do a proper body count, examine whether the wreckage has been tampered with. i know you were talking about the black boxes just now. it was our intent to possibly even transfer them or transport them today. when we asked for the commander of the local area to ask him where are they, there was no commander. there was no one in charge. it was mind-boggling. >> and one final question. i know in the past several months several of your osce
monitors have been detained by these separatists. first of all, are your people okay? anyone still being detained? >> sure. thanks for asking. yes, they're fine. we have no one being held right now. but having said that, that incident where eight of our colleagues were held for up to a month -- by the way, they were taken very close to the area where the plane went down. you know, that was a real shock to our system. and so we're being extra, extra careful in terms of security. there's a lot of groups, there's a lot of fire power. it's actually very scary in some areas. very difficult for a monitoring mission to operate but we're assuming that risk and we're trying to get our job done as best we can. >> michael, be careful over there. you guys do very important work. but i know it's risky, dangerous. so be very careful. still ahead, we have new information on the u.s. role in the investigation of the
shootdown of flight 17. stand by for that. and the clues and in the carnage, a veteran crash investigator tells us what he sees in the photos of the flight 17 wreckage. moderate to severe crohn's disease is tough, but i've managed. ♪ i got to be pretty good at managing my symptoms, except that managing my symptoms was all i was doing. ♪ when i finally told my doctor, he said my crohn's was not under control. ♪ he said humira is for adults like me who have tried other medications but still experience the symptoms of moderate to severe crohn's disease. and that in clinical studies, the majority of patients on humira saw significant symptom relief. and many achieved remission. [ female announcer ] humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems,
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investigation into what happened. he spoke out today about the downing of flight 17 and about russia's possible role. let's bring in our senior white house correspondent jim acosta for the very latest. >> you may be able to hear marine one, sound of marine one over my shoulder right now. president obama is in the middle of some meetings that that he's wrapping up on the situation in ukraine and then he'll be headed out to camp david this weekend after handing down what sounded like an indictment of vladimir putin and the russians for the downing of flight 17. it was the president acting as prosecutor, first putting faces on what he called a global tragedy. >> men, women, children, infants who had nothing to do with the crisis in ukraine. their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportions. >> including one young u.s. dutch citizen. >> our thoughts and prayers are with his family for this
terrible loss. then president obama presented the case that they're building against the pro-russian militants in ukraine. >> eftd supports that the plane was shot down by an air-to-surface missile. >> barely 24 hours before the crash senior administration officials warned that kind of weaponry was already used to shoot down ukraine than aircraft. >> a group of separatists can't shoot down military transport planes or they claim shoot down fighter jets without sophisticated equipment and training and that is coming from russia. >> the man responsible for that, the president said, is lad here putin. >> he has the most control over that situation. and so far at least he has not exercised it. >> in the hours after the crash the russian president was playing defense, blaming ukraine. >> translator: this tragedy would not have happened if there
were peace on that land and if any case if the military activities had not resumed in the southeast of ukraine. >> we don't have time for games. >> wu the games may have already begun with fierce that evidence is disappearing and international monitors are facing harassment at the crash site. president is distaching ntsb and fbi investigators to ukraine. >> evidence mous not be tampered with and investigators need to access the crash site. >> but in the smoldering wreckage, the white house may finally have the smoking gun it has needed to rally a reluctant world to punish putin. >> i think that this certainly will be a wakeup call for europe and the world that there are consequences -- escalating conflict in eastern ukraine. >> now president obama will be at comp david with the rest of his family but it will be a working weekend. he has calls and briefings
scheduled all weekend long on both the violence in zba za and the plane crash. but don't look for the president to make a rush to judgment on putin just yet. he says he wants more facts, not speculation. wolf. >> jim acosta at the white house. thanks very much. all eyes clearly on the russian president. brian todd is taking a closer look at his potential next move. brian, what are you finding out? >> vladimir putin and the pro-russian rebels in ukraine who he supported have denied any involvement in the crash. analysts belief putin circled the wagons in moscow and weighing his options from a position of growing isolation. >> vladimir putin responded in predictable fax by hunkering down defrekt flecting blame toward ukraine. >> translator: this tragedy would not have happened if there had been peace on that land or if military operations in southeastern ukraine had not been renewed.
>> but u.s. leaders are blunt. while hi didn't set the launch codes but his support places a heavy burden on the man in the kremlin. >> he has the most control over that situation and so far he has not exercised it. >> i think he's responsible. >> analysts say in the immediate aftermath of the malaysia airlines crash, hes's under enormous pressure. >> this is one of the most difficult situations he's faced since 2000. >> of his most powerful partners with germany is forcing him to. balk his support and china is not saying one thing one way or another. the visible supporters in the immediate aftermath of the crash may be syrian president or cuba's raul castro. the consequences for putin if he interferes with the crash site. >> the consequences are very severe sanctions. for example the west could cut off any access to the russian
financial markets from any financing from any loans in the west. >> but experts say putin is under pressure inside russia as well from hard-line nationalists who want him to take back some of ukraine. >> he's already come under pressure from them because they say he allowed the ukrainian military official to take back one of the may jor cities. >> all prompting the inevitable question, how will this man who hates to be painted into a corner respond to all of the pressure. >> his unpredictability there has many on edge. analysts say putin could get more aggressive with ukraine, he could ride this out, he could deescalate with ukraine. what analysts say he is not likely to do is really bring whoever fired the missile to justice, a trial or any proveegd like that might reveal hard information on where they got the weapon. wolf. >> thank you. let's bring back jiem sciutto, also pamela brown, our law
enforcement analyst, tom fuentes and bob baer. what will putin do next based on everything you're hearing? >> that's the big question. this is something that u.s. officials have been struggling with for weeks and have been frustrated with the fact that his public statements differ from what's happening on the ground. the president said that again today. better words coming out of moscow but not better actions. now you have what is undeniably an escalation of the shootdown of the plane and some responsibility be laid at the feet of putin and russia. the real question is how do u.s. officials and european officials react now to increase the pressure on putin. >> bob baer, you think this is obviously a very tricky development. the u.s. is about to draw major conclusions about russia's connection to all of this. how difficult will it be to determine that? >> oh, i think it's pretty clear
now, wolf, that putin has created a proxy force in the eastern ukraine which he can't control. he's armed it, sent trainers in, he's obviously sending money in. the evidence is very good in a situation like this. the question is will he give up eastern ukraine or will he continue to fight on. it's unknown now. >> pamela, you've been reporting about the fbi agents who are heading to the scene. what doctor you learned? >> wolf, we've learned that two fbi agents, a general investigator and a forensic expert are en route to kiev, ukraine right now. they're going to stay under the umbrella of the u.s. embassy and wait for more direction. the big concern is safe passage to that crime scene which is in a disputed territory. it's a hostile environment. we learned early today that some european investigators experienced it firsthand.
the big concern for the u.s. investigators, these two fbi agents, is to figure out how to get into the crime scene. that really falls squarely on the shoulders of the ukrainiian officials. >> tom fuentes, what can do fbi agents do there on the scene? >> right now, wolf, what they're there to do is to give advice to the ukrainians about how to go about this investigation, how to proceed if allowed access. if the ukrainians themselves are allowed access. as i mentioned earlier, the ukrainian government wants a full-scale investigation by outside experts to come in and do it but they don't control the ground there. it's kind of an irrelevant point at this time until they get there. the fbi has a full-time office in kiev with a number of agents. and would have already been getting advice about this situation. but you know, a crime scene like this, spread out over 10 miles, you're talking about hundreds of people that it would take to
comb the fields, to gather the evidence and then, you know, hundreds more to take care of all of the poor victims that are still lying in the field unattended. so, you know, you would need a small army of people to control that scene and to do it properly. and a handful of european observers with smartphone cameras isn't going to cut it. and a couple of fbi agents giving advice to the ukrainian government a couple hundred miles away in kiev, that's not going to get it done either. right now until the rebels allow an investigation to occur, it's not going to happen. >> yeah, it's an awful situation. all right, guys. stand by. just ahead, the scene of the shootdown, what can investigators tell from the disturbing photos of the wreckage. and later we go live to gaza as israel pounds hamas targets on the ground and in the air. the assault could get bigger. more of the breaking news coverage coming up. e wonder of t
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investigators are just beginning to comb the flight 17 wreckage for clues on the ground and the photo of the crash site. let's bring in tom foreman and peter goelz. tom, set the scene for us. how are they doing -- what are their goals? >> peter, you can answer that better than i can by far. let's look at the big debris field here. what are youing looing for if you get into this area if you could get people in there? >> what you're looking for is this was clearly a place where there was a heavy fuel burn. you've got a portion of the engine here, another portion of the engine here and you've got landing gear up over here. it is most likely the center
core part of the aircraft. that's where the center fuel tank is, that's where the fuel from the fuel in the wings are funneling back to the engines. it's the most flammable part of the plane. it's also the strongest part of the aircraft. >> you can't get investigators in here right now. you need them in here desperately. how much difference does it make that this guy is here, this other people are walking through this site? >> well, it is very disturbing. i mean you cannot have people just picking through parts -- sometimes there are very small parts that make a big difference. sometimes there isn't. but in any case, when i was at the ntsb we prosecuted people who were standing doing things like that. >> what can you tell from some of the bigger pieces, even from the photographs here? >> this is an interesting piece. eerily, like some of the large pieces from twa 800, what you see is a tear. you also see no sooting. it was obviously probably a later piece of the plane that
came off after the missile struck, did its damage. this came unzipped and floated down to earth. >> what can you tell about things like that. when you look at the wheels or it, does this tell you anything in. >> that's part of the center wheel chassises. again, right near to center wing tank. obviously there was plenty of fuel there when this thing was coming down. it was on fire. >> i'm going to guess pieces like this, a door similar to the one you talked about before. let me ask you one other. look at these personal effects here. things that people had on board there. right now we have many victim of this presumably in the wreckage out there now for days, the scene is decaying. the actual evidence you want there. but how do investigators deal with that when you walk into the middle of all of this and here are people and their lives? >> it is the most difficult thing you can imagine, particularly with children. you see parts of people's lives,
you see things that reflect right back to you. i remember being in an accident scene and seeing a book that i was reading in the wreckage. i'll never forget that. it is that these innocents are still laying in the field this long after the accident is unforgivable. >> the difficult of dealing with that and of course the sheer forensics of a scene like this, all the more complicated as each hour and each day goes by and the scene is unattended by professionals. wolf. >> yeah, it's a shocking development. guys, thanks very much. just ahead, we're learning more about the american who was killed on board flight 17. stand by for that. we'll go live to gaza as the israeli ground assault intensifies, threatens to grow even bigger. i'll get palestinian reaction to the attacks that are under way right now. moderate to severe crohn's disease is tough,
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see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance. some important news just coming in on the fate of those critically important nuclear talks with i ran. you've got new information. what have you learned elise? >> reporter: that's right. the last few weeks the so-call p 5 plus one world powers in iran have been trying to hash out a deal before the july 20th deadline. i'm told they're not able to do that and now western deposit mats tell me that aroon and the p 5 plus one have agreed to a four-month extension to conclude those negotiations for a final deal, wolf. they could not come to terms because there is a lot of
discrepancy about how much of a nuclear architecture iran could maintain after any dale. and that's why they're going to be talking for another four month, wolf. >> we'll see what happens. you're also getting some new information about the american who was killed on board flight 17. what are you learning on that front, elise? >> his name is quinn lucas schansman. he's 19 years old, wolf. was a business student at the university of amsterdam and on his facebook page today a lot of people talking about what a wonderful person he was. his girlfriend was making some comments. clearly this was someone who really enjoyed life and was really starting out. he was on his way to malaysia to meet up with his family. he was a soccer player and everyone tonight in amsterdam very upset as well as husband friends back here. he was a dual nationality. also a citizen of the netherlands and the dutch certainly mourning today. the u.s. is also continuing to
look and see if there are any other dual national ps they've ruled out any americans living in the united states that traveled on a u.s. passport were on board the flight. but because there are so many dual nationals around the world, they're combing the list to be 100% sure. >> elise labott thank you. our deepest condolences to his family and to all of the families of the 298 people who were on board the airliner. we'll have more breaking noous just ahead including somd deadly fight in gaza. the mission is clearly escalating as israel has warned it might. we're live in jerusalem. we're following the breaking news. stay with us. you're in "the situation room."
live in jerusalem following the assault in gaza. we're seeing possible signs of that tonight. our senior international correspondent ben wiedemann is in gaza for us. what have you been seeing? >> reporter: a little while ago there was an airstrike not far from here. there were a lot of flares being fired to the east of here near the border with israel. it's now gone quiet. but it certainly was not a quiet day in the 26 hours since the israeli ground invasion began more than 50 people have been killed among them an entire family to the northeast of here where four adults, four children were killed when their house took a direct hit. at this point, the death toll is me nearing 300. the situation on the ground is increasingly difficult with more
and prolonged power cuts. more than a million people here are without running water. and a number of people are taking refuge in united nations schools doubling from 20 to 40,000 in the last 24 hours, wolf. >> ben wiedemann in gaza for us. thanks very much. i spoke with the spokesmen for benjamin netanyahu. we are joined by -- joining us from istanbul. is there any progress towards a ceasefire between the israelis and hamas in? >> what i can tell you at this hour is there an ongoing meeting. it's been going on for the last four hours. president abbas was in cairo where he was in touch with the
factions including hamas and jihad and she has one item on the agenda and that is the implementation of the immediate ceasefire, timed ceasefire and everything will be discussed an hour later. what is going on in gaza now the ground incursion of the israeli forces is comp mating matters and overloading the -- and adding to the complicities we're facing. president abbas was on the phone with secretary john kerry. he was in touch with a phone call to the pope today. his holiness pope francis. he's going to be going to qatar in the next 24 hours err we're exerting every possible effort in order to do one thing, stop this bloodshed, stop this massacre. in the last 24 hours, 68 palestinians have been killed. the infrastructure has been
destroyed. more than 20,000 homes have been damaged or totally destroyed. this madness must stop. there will never be a political solution through these military means. what we need is to give the egyptian initiative the chance it deserves. that's why the president is in turkey and in egypt yesterday. he met with the foreign minister today in cairo and he also met with the foreign minister of germany, the foreign minister of italy. and if mr. netanyahu believes he can achieve the political solution by his tanks and his airplanes and his navy, he's dead wrong. he's only adding fuel to the fire and complicity to -- >> in fairness, the israelis accepted the egyptian ceasefire proposal. they stopped their military activity and hamas rejected it. they had a chance.
what will it take to convince hamas to stop launching rockets and missiles into israel? >> not by a military ground invasion and incursion. we are here and doing whatever we can. whatever humanly possible to stop the cycle, to stop the -- to have a ceasefire. and then from there, the egyptians are willing to have palestinians and israelis slate in cairo to see what to do the day after. wolf, i don't think, israel ground invasion into gaza is going to add more security and more peace to israel. on the contrary. it is violence and chaos and extremism. >> is there any hope, though, that there's -- there can be a ceasefire right now? israelis see an opportunity to
destroy as much of hamas's military capability as possible. is there any initiative that can stop this right now or is this going to go on? >> i've seen some good signs tonight in istanbul. i have seen more determination in egypt from president sissi. there is an effort to begin immediate implementation of the egypt initiative. that's what we hope to achieve. this is the only way out. i don't see any other vehicle out other than the vehicle of a ceasefire and to sustain it and to look forward into the day after what you're going to do with the help rebuilding and reconstructing and so on. >> i know you have been working with mahmoud abbas traveling to qatar right now and the egyptians are working very hard. let's see if there can be a ceasefire that can be achieved.
let me take this note before we leave to thank our long-time director chip, who is moving on. he has been in the seat for a long time. for all of us at cnn thanks for doing an excellent job. to all our viewers, thanks for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in the "the situation room." erin burnett "outfront" starts erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com next breaking news we are live at the scene of the flight 17 crash. u.s. officials say they now know who likely shot down the plane. plus what we are learning about the passengers who died in the attack including a u.s. citizen and student at u.s. college. and details about the missile launch that took down the jet. does this prove that vladimir putin was involved? let's go "outfront."